/FMQs: No let up on bullying allegations

FMQs: No let up on bullying allegations



FMQs, 21st November 2017

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Welsh Government Bullying Allegations

The First Minister’s answers on bullying in the Welsh Government have been contradictory: he’s denied any allegations yet has also said any allegations have been dealt with. He hasn’t explained how they were dealt with either and AMs need clarity on what happened.

Carwyn said that if he is “choosing his words carefully” it’s not because he’s being evasive but that it’s been a traumatic time and he doesn’t want to make matters worse. He said no specific allegation of bullying was ever made to him, but he accepted that not everyone was happy about the way things operated. There will always be tensions in government and he hopes people will look at his record and see that he has been fair.

Verdict: Block – A more confident answer from the First Minister compared to previous weeks, but it’s still not good enough.

Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central): Welsh Government Bullying Allegations

Andrew said the First Minister’s answers remain confusing and contradictory. These aren’t difficult questions to answer. There is now huge public interest in this matter, so will Labour support the motion being put forward next week to refer the bullying allegations to an Assembly committee for an urgent inquiry?

The First Minister repeated that no specific allegation of bullying was made in 2014, formally or informally. Labour’s position on the vote next will depends on the wording of the motion, but he was “not afraid of scrutiny” and accepts this issue needs further investigation.

Verdict: Block – Ditto above.

Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): Air Passenger Duty

Neil welcomed the idea of tax cutting and tax abolition – with reference to the First Minister’s desire to devolve air passenger duty and cut/scrap it for long-haul flights – but how can this be reconciled with a view that there shouldn’t be tax competition between different parts of the UK as it could disadvantage English airports? It also doesn’t fit with Labour’s desire to cut greenhouse emissions.

The First Minister believes there already is tax competition because APD has been devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland. Evidence has been presented to the UK Government that devolving the tax to Wales would be of no threat to Bristol Airport. If people who currently travel to Heathrow to fly long haul instead travel a shorter distance to Cardiff it might cut their carbon footprint.

Verdict: Block – Reasonable answer to the competition question, not so to the greenhouse emission question.

Backbenchers

Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen): Will the First Minister make a statement on Welsh Government efforts to make Wales a dementia-friendly country?

A new National Dementia Plan is expected to be agreed by Christmas and published in the new year. It’s important that dementia is understood across generations so young people understand what the effects can be. He applauds innovative schemes where young people take part in schemes to help those with dementia.

Verdict: Miss – Straightfoward answer.

David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central): Will the First Minister make a statement on cyclist safety in Wales?

In 2017-17, 15,000 people have been trained in cycle safety thanks to Welsh Government funding. Car drivers have the primary responsibility to look out for cyclists. Guidance resulting from the Active Travel Act 2013 provides clear standards for infrastructure and local authorities must comply with it. Dangerous cyclists are a small minority, but it’s important cyclists look out for their own safety too, such as by using lights at night.

Verdict: Miss – A refreshingly detailed and straighforward answer.

Steffan Lewis AM (Plaid, South Wales East): Will the First Minister make a statement on the Welsh Government’s international policy?

The Welsh Government aren’t waiting for the outcome of Brexit to develop an international policy, but Wales will need to increase its presence in other countries whilst not ignoring the largest market on our doorstep – the EU. There has already been some success outside the EU such as securing a Cardiff-Doha flight and Welsh lamb becoming a market leader in the United Arab Emirates.

Verdict: Miss – Ditto above.